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The Socialist CarAutomobility in the Eastern Bloc$
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Lewis H. Siegelbaum

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449918

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449918.001.0001

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The Common Heritage of the Socialist Car Culture

The Common Heritage of the Socialist Car Culture

(p.143) 8 The Common Heritage of the Socialist Car Culture
The Socialist Car

Luminita Gatejel

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines two dominant perspectives on socialist cars, one belonging to the Cold War context and the other to post-1989 Communist nostalgia. What seems to have survived the dissolution of the former Eastern Bloc with regard to cars is either their proverbial bad reputation or a nostalgic patina retroactively added to them. This chapter first traces the parallel advancement toward mass motorization in the German Democratic Republic, the Soviet Union, and socialist Romania. It then considers the car as a vehicle of socialism, with particular emphasis on the characteristic features of the so-called socialist car culture as well as the national context and the specific conditions that allowed mass motorization to spread throughout the entire Eastern Bloc. It also explores various constructions of the Socialist Car and how it gave rise to identical discourses and inspired similar popular cultural movements in all three countries. Finally, it discusses the integrative function of the consumption and social policies of the 1960s and 1970s that homogenized socialist societies.

Keywords:   motorization, Eastern Bloc, German Democratic Republic, Soviet Union, Romania, car culture, Socialist Car, popular culture, consumption, socialism

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